tribe – noun
: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader
Six summers ago I went to my first Glen workshop in Santa Fe. I knew about it from subscribing to the journal Image, and had wanted to go for a few years. In 2007, when I got around to registering, the class I wanted to take was closed. So I merely got on a waiting list. When the call came that a spot had opened, I was kind of a mess, the Glen was weeks away, and I didn’t think I could get it together to travel.
In 2008, when I got around to registering, the class I wanted to take was closed. So I registered for another class and committed myself to being there. When the message came that a spot had opened, I took it.
At the Glen, I found a convergence of two of my identities. Imagine a Venn diagram with two overlapping circles. One is people who take faith seriously. People who mostly believe in God and love Jesus, yet whose faith has included periods of doubt, of wrestling with the visiting angel, of lying awake in the dark night and choosing again in the light of day to follow. People who are haunted by faith, sometimes. The other circle is people who make things. Stories, poems, essays, songs, drawings, paintings, sculpture, found object art. Creative people, and also people who maybe don’t make those forms of art but who appreciate them, and who maybe love someone who makes them, and who like to talk about them.
The overlap of those circles is the Glen. In that first week in the high desert of Santa Fe, I knew I had found my tribe.
They are also people of the table. If I were there, I’d be gathering for three hours each morning with 15 or so people around a seminar table in a writing class, sharing our manuscripts, talking about craft, working at and feasting on ideas. Three times I day, I’d be gathering with some of those folks and lots of other folks in the cafeteria. (This is part of the bliss of that week for me: eating every single meal with other people.)
I went to seven Glens in six years. There are good reasons why I wasn’t able to be at either Glen this year. I’m calling it my seventh, let-the-field-lie-fallow year. But I’m going to take the week to think about that tribe, and why it is so dear to me, and what goodness is in my life that wouldn’t be there if not for the Glen.
Meanwhile, I’ll rise early, as I would there, and take a walk in the cool of the morning, and think about the people I love, and think about the work I am driven to do, and how that place and those connections feed me toward doing it.
WORD COUNT: 471
I am linking up with Charity Singleton Craig’s weekly column; this is the first week she is inviting others to write about their word for the week and to link at her place. Charity has never been to the Glen, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t know her if not for the Glen. More about that later this week.
About the photo? That is the oasis of the Glen, also known as the koi pond on the campus of St. John’s College in Santa Fe. The lines? That was from the year there was an artist making things with used coffee grounds. People took off their shoes in the courtyard, one by one, and she outlined our bare feet with the grounds. Later she added lines to show our interconnectedness. There are invisible lines of coffee grounds this week, stretching from Santa Fe to Arkansas, and Texas, and Indiana, and Florida, and Massachusetts, and Michigan, and Kentucky, and Colorado, and Canada, and other places where Glen alumni are Glenning at home this week.